There were decisive movements in the ongoing battle over the image of the war and its soldiers this week. For some, an image of heroic soldiers tells the right story. For others, images of soldiers’ bad behavior tells the real story. Brooke tallies the score.
More often than not, he says, we can only hope. We only know what they tell us. The war at home, our war, is a war over the image of the war. For instance, in The New Republic, an anonymous soldier, who this week identified himself as Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, has been blogging about casual cruelty in the field, a soldier who keeps a tally of the dogs he gleefully runs over with his Bradley fighting vehicle, a trooper who wore a cranium he found in a burial ground on his head.
Some readers, among them, Michael Goldfarb in The Weekly Standard and John Podhoretz in National Review Online, do not believe this blogger, and other soldiers claim that the Bradley can't do what Private Beauchamp says it can, and that ordinance he described doesn't exist.
New Republic editor Franklin Foer couldn't talk to us by deadline. He was still investigating. And well he should. His magazine has been burned by liars in the past. But he told The Washington Post that conservative bloggers make a living of denying any bad news that comes from Iraq.
This week, another salvo in the image war was fired by the liberal Nation magazine in the form of a special report based on interviews with 50 combat veterans, on the record, who witnessed or even participated in the killing of Iraqi civilians. Their stories are far, far worse than Private Beauchamp's.
And finally this week, another image defeat for the military. We learned that several Army officers have been punished for lying about the death in 2004 of former NFL star Pat Tillman. The Pentagon claimed he died fighting the Taliban and gave him a posthumous Silver Star. In reality, he was killed by friendly fire. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BROOKE GLADSTONE: Up next, another war of images, this one on the silver screen. This is On the Media from NPR.